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Mt. Hood huckleberries slim pickings for Warm Springs women

PORTLAND, Ore. - At The Dalles on the Columbia River the stiff upstream
wind ruffles 58-year-old Suzie Slockish's hair off her forehead. Slockish
has taken a month of leave without pay from her job as instructor in the
Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs language program. The huckleberry
harvest is over now, and she's helping her husband and son with the salmon.
She figures she's one of about a quarter of the Warm Springs women - out of
an enrolled membership of around 4,000 - that still picks huckleberries.

"We're not close to the creator any more with the land and the water where
our food grows naturally. That's what scares me, because our children
aren't taking to the salmon and roots and berries like they should. They
eat McDonald's and Safeway and then the alcohol and drugs take over,"
Slockish said. "Our ancestors were very religious about the food. It was
survival for them. It was scary to do anything wrong so the food wouldn't
be taken away from them. And that's what's happening today. If we didn't
have Safeway, we wouldn't have enough to eat because the food's been going
away. That's why we have to go clear to Mt. Adams on the Washington side
for huckleberries now."

Director of Intergovernmental and Planning for the Warm Springs, Louie
Pitt, is frustrated by the same thing as Slockish. "When I was just a kid,
I saw my mom and aunties picking berries at a place called High Rock up on
Mt. Hood," Pitt said. "Now if you go up there 40 to 50 years later, it's
all grown over. That's symbolic of most areas on Mt. Hood with few
exceptions."

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